Can I Break My Apartment Lease If I Lose My Job?

Last Updated Apr 3, 2009 1:29 PM EDT

Dear Ali: I want to move but I'm concerned about the economy. Can I break my apartment lease if I lose my job and need to run back home to Mom and Dad?

A: Not usually, but now there's a cool new exception -- in an effort to encourage fearful potential tenants, Denver-based Archstone is now allowing New York City-area renters an exit clause if they suddenly become unemployed.

The loophole -- reminiscent of Hyundai's 'Uncertain Times" ad campaign, which promises you can exit your car lease if you lose your job -- applies to a bunch of Archstone buildings, including West Side behemoths like the 627-unit Archstone Clinton.

The guarantee is the sign of both troubles in the NYC-area economy (the unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in December) and the softness in the apartment market generally.

Year-over-year (which is the way you have to look at rentals, because students, for instance, show up in the summer and leave in the summer), the price of a one-bedroom studio in a doorman building is down 5.7 percent, according to a report from The Real Estate Group New York, a Manhattan-area brokerage firm.

In actuality, the numbers may be even a little softer because some buildings are doing deals where they're giving out a free month -- or three.

This is in the "normal" end of the market. The "ultraluxury" end is holding up much better. I have had as many showings on our firm's $27,500 triplex rental listing (yes, that's per month -- check out the private pool, at left) as I have on our $1,650 starter studio.

I guess at the super-swanky end, renters feel like they won't ever have to run back to Mom and Dad. Or maybe they do -- but I want to meet those parents.

(Image of swimming pool by David Myles Photography)
  • Alison Rogers

    Since graduating from Harvard summa cum laude, Alison Rogers has been a reporter, an editor, a real-estate agent, a Wall Street desk jockey, a columnist, a failed flipper, and a landlady. A member of the National Association of Realtors, she currently sells and rents luxury co-ops in Manhattan for the Chelsea-based firm DG Neary. (If you've got $27,500 a month, the firm has an apartment for you!) Her book, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, was called "a valuable guide for rookie buyers" by AOL/Walletpop, "beach-read fun" by the New York Observer, and "witty" by Newsweek.

Popular

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Market Data

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

Market News

Stock Watchlist

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download